'Conservatives eye big changes to armed forces'
Reuters report that the armed forces face huge change if the Conservative Party wins next week's general election, with an "unsentimental" review set to prompt "tough decisions", according to the party's defence spokesman on Thursday (29 Apr 2010).
With politicians under pressure to slash the163 billion pound budget deficit but promising to protect spending on education or health, the armed forces are a prime candidate for cuts despite the war in Afghanistan.
The centre-right Conservative Party has consistently led opinion polls ahead of the May 6 ballot, and defence spokesman Liam Fox said the party would immediately initiate a six month strategic defence review (SDR) should it gain power.
"The SDR needs to be a step change review, not an incremental review. It also has to be unsentimental," he told Reuters in an interview at his party's London headquarters.
"It will mean eventually that we will have to make some pretty tough decisions, about what we do and what we don't do and about who we do things in conjunction with," he said.
The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think tank in London has said the most optimistic scenario would mean the Ministry of Defence could face a cut in its budget of around 11 percent in real terms over the six years to 2016/17.
Deep cuts to overall spending are expected whoever wins the closely contested election...
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